The Lions have trailed in the fourth quarter of each of their last three games. They won each contest, scoring the winning points in the game’s waning seconds.
“We just fight. We have a really, really good team. Unfortunately, it keeps coming down to the end, but the game is never over until it says zero on the clock,” said wide receiver Golden Tate. “That’s one thing you don’t have to doubt is that we’re going to play until it hits zero on the clock. It’s been working out for us.”
The reason that it’s been “working out” for the Lions is largely because the team is able to maintain composure when pressed with adversity. The term “cardiac cats” refers to the nerves of the observers, not those of the team. Perhaps the un-fret-able felines would be a more fitting moniker? How about the poised pride?
Okay, so the names need a little work. Still, at the heart of the Lions nerve-racking comebacks is their nerveless reaction to any in-game turbulence.
“I think a lot of guys just learned from last year,” said linebacker DeAndre Levy. “It goes back to what I was just saying before, nobody starts pressing, nobody starts panicking . Always make sure you just do your job.”
It’s not that there weren’t opportunities to panic, because there were. Some teams may have not responded well to a second-quarter interception that could have added crucial points to an early lead. Others may have lost focus after a blocked field goal resulted in a potential 10-point swing and the loss of the lead late in the third-quarter.
It would have been easy for the Lions to cave in at either of these junctions in the game – or even after a three-and-out forced the Lions to punt away the ball while facing a three-point deficit with less than four minutes remaining. Rather than lose their cool, they settled down and bounced back.
“Just like last week, we’ve been in that situation so many times, we have a core group of guys that have been on the team over the last four years,” said wide receiver Calvin Johnson. “We’ve been in those situations time in, time out where we come back and win. So, there really wasn’t any sweat, we just had to go out there and execute.”
Some would say that the team is lucky to have earned three consecutive comeback victories. Although there is merit to the argument that no team could sustain this type of success in these situations, it’s also true that the notion of luck being a factor can be countered with the consistent results.
“This is my fourth season with this team and watching Matthew (Stafford) and that offense work,” said defensive back Don Carey. “I’m a believer, I don’t care what the score is, I’ve seen some amazing things happen, seen him make some amazing throws, so we’re never out of a game. A lot of people say that but I truly believe it and you can see that happening just this year alone. This doesn’t happen by luck this many times. Always exciting to watch them play.”
This was fourth-quarter comeback number 15 for Stafford, who has now played 70 games in his career. He has passed for more yards (19,953) than anyone else in their first 70 NFL games. Although the defense was the reason the Lions had a chance to comeback, Stafford worked magic on the last drive, completing 9-of-11 passes for 79 yards and the winning touchdown.
“The guy gets it in his mind that he’s going to go win the game and that’s what he does,” said Johnson. “He’s the most accurate quarterback, to me, in the league. He puts the ball wherever he needs to put it. He helps us out a ton and we just try to make plays for him.”
Perhaps it's best not to seek out clever nick names and titles to describe these Lions. Just let the numbers speak for themselves.